Los Angeles Area rss

Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the LA Chowhound community.

A Good Hard-Shell Taco Is Hard to Find in Silverlake

A good hard-shell taco is a rare beast these days, especially in Silverlake. But DanaB was pleasantly surprised by Rick’s, a dive with a makeshift drive-through right near the 5 Freeway.

“The hard-shell taco was everything I’d want it to be–home-fried shell, kind of casually tasty meat, but stuffed with cheese, tomato, and lettuce, and served with a tasty red chile sauce. It was good. It was actually very good.”

Other than the tacos, the burgers are on par with Fatburger, and their chili cheese fries (with their chunky, meaty chili) are better. Onion rings and veggie burgers come off surprisingly well.

Cheap, tasty breakfasts are also popular–about $5 will fill you up. Try the breakfast burrito with bacon, or chorizo with eggs. Their potatoes are tops.

Rick’s Drive In & Out [Silverlake]
2400 Fletcher Dr., at Riverside Dr., Los Angeles

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I found the hard shell taco place in Silverlake —Ricks.

Frozen Yogurt: The Creamy vs. the Crunchy

Red Mango is supposedly the Korean original version of tangy frozen yogurt that spawned Pinkberry, which has spawned, well, a bunch of other wannabes with colorful and fruity names.

Comparing the two, Pei says that Red Mango (available at the Westwood California Roll & Sushi) is better, and a better value. It’s much creamier, slightly more tangy and a small cup with one kind of fruit costs just $2. With a meal, a small cup is free.

Another good contendor for the tangy-yogurt title is Yogurt Queen, says love2chow. Good portions, good fro-yo.

And yet, nothing is quite the same as Pinkberry. Its worshipers prefer the Pinkberry texture–kind of crunchy with ice–to the creamier competition.

Bigg Chill also has attempted the tangy yogurt thing. Stay far away, hounds say–it tastes horribly artificial.

California Roll & Sushi [Westwood]
1834 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles

Pinkberry [West Hollywood]
868 Huntley Drive, West Hollywood

Pinkberry [Hollywood]
7123 Melrose Ave., at La Brea, Los Angeles

Pinkberry [Koreatown]
3300 W. 6th St., at Berendo, Los Angeles

Pinkberry [Westwood]
10911 Lindbrook Drive, Los Angeles

Pinkberry [East San Fernando Valley]
12044 1/2 Ventura Blvd., Studio City

Pinkberry [Larchmont Village]
236 N. Larchmont, Los Angeles

Pinkberry [Sawtelle Strip]
11301 West Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles

Yogurt Queen In Melrose [Hollywood]
7619 1-2 Melrose Ave., at Fairfax, Los Angeles

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Red Mango vs. Pinkberry

What Goes Around, Comes Around at Sushi 5

Sushi 5 is a new place in Tustin where you can get first-rate fish for pennies, says russkar.

Don’t be turned off by the setup, which is a revolving conveyor of sushi. *GrindzHound * is a huge fan of the quality and value.

Nigiri sushi such as yellowtail, albacore tataki, salmon and, scallops are consistently fresh and tasty. The scallops include the entire scallop, not just the white medallion normally served, which means it has more of a scallop/clam flavor. One time, though, the tuna sushi was not so fresh.

Miso soup is made from scratch; salmon salad is a generous portion of greens, salmon skin, avocado, and scallions, dressed with ponzu.

Nigiri sushi costs $2.50 for two pieces (if you can find a coupon in Pennysaver, it’s $1.99 Monday-Thursday); sushi rolls are $2.50 and premium sushi (toro, giant clam) is market price, but there might be deals on the specials board, like two pieces of toro/giant clam for $2.50. Salmon salad is $6.

Lunch specials, served seven days a week, include $5-6 donburi bowls and a 10-piece sushi lunch for $10, including salad and miso soup.

The owner is Japanese, and also owns Laguna Sushi.

Sushi 5 [South OC]
13962 Newport Ave. Suite D, Tustin

Board Links
OC Review: SUSHI 5, “Sushi so Fresh it’s Still Moving“

When You’re Crying for Argentina but Don’t Need Steak

“Argentinean food” just means steak to a lot of people, but for more everyday food, there are a bunch of hole-in-the-wall joints that are pretty much like holes-in-the-wall in Buenos Aires.

Mercado Buenos Aires has good choripan (sausage sandwich), empanadas, and fried cheese. Service is straight outta BA–the staff would rather be watching futbol.

Grand Casino, a bakery, makes tasty empanadas that are baked instead of fried, says Dommy.

DiveFan points to the empanadas and Argentinean sandwiches at the deli counter of the Argentinean-owned Continental Market.

If it’s fugazza you want, the Argentinean answer to pizza, minus the sauce, try Carniceria Argentina, says Jerome. There’s also Catalina’s Market.

Colo’s is a tiny place tucked into the back of a North Hollywood mini-mall. It’s pretty darn good, says Steve Doggie-Dogg, and they have a butcher shop too.

It’s no longer a hole in the wall, says silvana, but Tito’s Market still is a great place to go for empanadas and other Argentinean goodies.

And if you just can’t live without a hunk of beef, you might as well hit up Carlito’s Gardel, which somehow isn’t as well known as it should be, for a melt-in-your-mouth steak.

Mercado Buenos Aires [East San Fernando Valley]
7540 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys

Grand Casino French Bakery [Culver City-ish]
3826 Main St., Culver City

Continental Gourmet Market [South LA]
12921 Prairie Ave., Hawthorne

Carnicera Argentina [East San Fernando Valley]
11740 Victory Blvd., at Colfax, North Hollywood

Catalina’s Market [East Hollywood]
1070 N. Western Ave., at Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles

Colos [East San Fernando Valley]
11009 Burbank Blvd., at Vineland, North Hollywood

Tito’s Market [East LA-ish]
9814 Garvey Ave., El Monte

Carlitos Gardel [West Hollywood]
7963 Melrose Ave., at Fairfax, Los Angeles

Board Links
Any Argentinean gems I don’t know about?

Tamale Time in the OC

Where to get Christmas tamales in Orange County? Las Golondrinas has the best, says jsl, who prefers their veggie and rajas (cheese with three kinds of peppers). El Toro Market has great tamales, says quinntran, but even better are those at Tamale Queen. Northgate Market makes a mean tamal oaxaqueno de puerco en chile rojo, says kare_raisu.

Las Golondrinas [South OC]
25800 Jeronimo Rd. Ste. 700, Mission Viejo

Las Golondrinas Mexican Food [South OC]
27124 Paseo Espada # 803 (Ortega Highway), San Juan Capistrano

Las Golondrinas Mexican Food [OC Beaches]
34069 Doheny Park Rd., Capistrano Beach

Las Golondrinas Mexican Food [South OC]
27981 Greenfield Dr. # G, Laguna Niguel

Las Golondrinas Mexican Food [South OC]
400 Camino De Estrella # B, San Clemente

El Toro Carniceria-Meat Shop [South OC]
1340 W. 1st St., Santa Ana

Tamale Queen [South OC]
a.k.a. Reyna’s Mexican Grill
1620 E. 1st St., Santa Ana

Northgate Market [Citywide]

Board Links
Tamales in OC for a party on December 3rd

Feeling Kinda Corny

It’s probably not a surprise that Fresh Corn Grill has great corn. The grilled salmon and corn are really good, says waterisgood–you can’t get salmon of that quality for less than $10 anywhere else. And their top-notch corn chowder is reminiscent of the Ivy’s, where the owner reputedly used to work.

Despite some hounds’ criticism about the Ivy, there’s no beating their corn chowder, says Tom P–silky, full of corn and spicy.

Fresh Corn Grill [Wealthy Westlands]
1510 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles

The Ivy [West Hollywood]
113 N. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles

Board Links
Have anyone been to: The abbey, Bistro of SM, or Fresh Corn
ISO Corn Chowder

The Pizza L.A. Has Been Waiting For

Raves have been pouring in for Mozza, Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali’s new pizzeria. This, it seems, is the pizza Los Angeles has been waiting for, with thin, crisp crust that’s char-blistered almost to a fault (they clip off the excess blistering) and toppings like oregano salami; mushroom, fontina, taleggio and thyme; and salami piccante, mozzarella and hot chilies.

Says Foodie McFood of the fennel sausage pie: “I won’t go into too much detail as to raise your expectations any higher, but I will say that my friends and I were splitting tiny pieces of sausage just to make sure we could all have a last bite.” For hrhboo, the lardo pizza was the winner. (Hint for dealing with those friends who might get squeamish about “cured pork fat”: Call it “white prosciutto.”) “The crust was liberally brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with rosemary, then baked. Once out of the oven it was topped with cold lardo, which soon began to melt into the hot crust. Absolutely divine.”

The only quibble that comes up is the topping-to-crust ratio–as Ciao Bob says, “With each slice you get one bite of topping WITH crust followed by three to four bites of lonely crust WITHOUT topping/sauce. It is just too bready, IMHO: kind of like basketball arena seating (puny floor with deep swath of surrounding seats) and I want a baseball park (similar seating but larger playing field).”

Pizzas are personal size, so there’s room for other stuff. The cured meats are excellent and the Tuesday special, crisp duck legs with lentils and saba, has been officially designated awesome. Ricotta-stuffed fried squash blossoms and arancini (fried risotto balls filled with meat and cheese in a bright tasting bolognese sauce) are both perfectly fried and tasty.

The caponata, says Fidelixi, “was utterly amazing to this eggplant afficianado and lover. Tender, not too oily or salty, balanced with acid and currants and pine nuts. Great. I want a bowl right now. I want a bowl every day.”

Desserts are mostly simple, espresso-and-cookie based things (although they’ll be phased out later in favor of an all-gelato menu), but the butterscotch pudding is divine, ending with the taste of burnt sugar on the top layer.

Wines are priced $25-50 a bottle–Adsvino recommends the rosato from co-owner Joe Bastianich, the Ceresuolo, the Alianico, and the sparkling Cortese. You can get a quartino, a carafe that serves one.

Oh, and although the restaurant was booked solid for dinner its first week and a crowd was waiting outside for it to open for lunch (hours are noon to midnight), hounds noted a lull between about 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Pizzeria Mozza [Hollywood]
641 North Highland Ave., Los Angeles

Board Links
just ate at mozza
Yet another Mozza review…
mozza: the wednesday edition
Shirking responsibilities for Mozza
Mozza again
So, who couldn’t wait and went to Pizzeria Mozza for lunch today?

How Ya Doin’, Pumpkin?

“The pumpkin pie at Urth Caffe makes me weak in the knees,” says amandine. “Consistency–perfect. Creamy, lump free, not too heavy. Holds up to a fork but isn’t jello-hard. Flavor–great balance between pumpkin and spice. Not too subtle, not overwhelming. Crust–heavenly. Thick, crumbly crumb crust with a nice rich molasses-y flavor.” It’s served by the slice with fresh whipped cream, and they’re taking orders for whole pies.

The Filling Station is a longtime hound favorite for pumpkin pies, and you won’t have to worry about whether you’ll get a slice–they’re huge. Drawback: Orange is way out of the way for metro Los Angeles dwellers.

Josie restaurant has excellent pumpkin pie and pumpkin cake, says David Kahn. The pie isn’t as large as the Filling Station’s (few are), and it’s more expensive (being from Josie).

Union Bakery has a great pumpkin pie, says Maria C.

L’Artiste Patisserie makes pumpkin pie and a chocolate pumpkin tart that’s quite tasty, says chocolatelover. They’re also got eggnog cake with cream cheese frosting for the holidays.

For something a bit more upscale than the average pumpkin pie, try Susina’s pumpkin mousse tart, says Food Good.

Europane has pumpkin squares that are incredibly light, custardy, and delicious. They are taking orders for holiday pies.

Sprinkles Falls Lightly on Newport Beach

Sprinkles opened a spinoff of its Beverly Hills cupcake shop in Newport Beach. It’s all about the rich, tangy cream cheese frosting here, says Emily. While vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting is plain, dry and boring (and other flavors are bland), banana cake is moist and assertively banana-y under a layer of cream-cheesey goodness. Red velvet is the other winner, says Pei–it’s incredibly moist, not too sweet, and topped with the same frosting.

Sprinkles Cupcakes [OC Beaches]
in Corona del Mar Plaza
944 Avocado Ave., at MacArthur, Newport Beach

Sprinkles [Beverly Hills]
9635 Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills

Board Links
Sprinkles in Newport Beach
Buttercake vs. Sprinkles

Golden Deli’s Secret Sibling

Pho lovers, beware: Because of a fire in the strip mall, Golden Deli is currently out of commission. The good news is, a previously unknown sister restaurant has come to light: Saigon Flavor (no relation to the one in Torrance).

It’s almost like being at good old Golden Deli: same menus, same numbers. The cha gio (spring roll) is just as savory as ever, says copacetic. Yet there are differences. The house special pho (#1) actually has better broth! And there’s a ton of parking in back! And the room is much nicer!

Although it was pretty uncrowded on one hound’s visit, another witnessed a crowd waiting to get in a few days ago. So maybe the word is out.

Vietnam House, across the street from Golden Deli and under the same ownership, also has basically the same food as Golden Deli, plus beer, parking, and they take credit cards.

Saigon’s Flavor San Gabriel Valley]
208 E. Valley Blvd., at Del Mar, San Gabriel

Golden Deli [San Gabriel Valley]
815 W. Las Tunas Dr., at Main, San Gabriel

Vietnam House [San Gabriel Valley]
710 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel

Board Links
Golden Deli Fire? Sister Restaurant Saigon Flavor